A lot of us experience occasional stiffness in our joints as we get older. While there are a number of things that you can do to help keep your joints healthy, the best thing that you can do is schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist. Here are a few ways to improve joint health.
Regular physical activity is crucial in maintaining healthy joints and relieving joint pain. Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints, helps maintain bone strength, and provides many other health benefits that promote good joint health.
Studies reported in Harvard Health Publishing do not support the idea that exercise can be bad for joint health. Long-term studies in the U.S. and in Australia found that exercise — even running — is good for joint health, not bad.
The most active people in the study were least likely to have arthritis or joint pain. Cartilage in joints doesn’t have its own blood supply, and exercise seems to push nutrient-rich fluid into the joints, bathing the cartilage with healthy fluid. Building muscles also benefits joints by providing them with support.
Talk with your doctor if you’re not sure what kind of exercise will be best for you. But don’t hesitate to exercise for fear of harming your joints — exercise is good for joint health.
Strengthen your bones
Exercise helps strengthen your bones, and so do the foods that you eat. Calcium and vitamin D can help you build and maintain strong and healthy bones.
Good sources of calcium include dark green vegetables, dairy products, and canned salmon. Vitamin D is produced by your body when you get enough sunshine. You can also find vitamin D in fortified dairy products and oily fish.
Maintain a healthy weight
The less you weigh, the less strain you put on your joints. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and portion control are key in maintaining a healthy weight.
Losing just 10% of your body weight can make a big difference in the strain on your joints. Add some exercise or reduce sodas and fast food to lose a few pounds. Your knees will thank you!
Avoid being stationary for too long
Sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time is hard on your body. Try not to stay in the same position for extended periods of time. This may be difficult for you depending on the type of work that you do.
If possible, try to change positions frequently. If you can’t get up and walk around every 30 minutes to an hour, try to stretch as often as you can. Small changes can help here, too. Stand up to take phone calls, walk down the hall instead of emailing a colleague, or set a timer for 20 to 30 minute intervals and take a few minutes to stretch and move around.
Don’t stress your joints
The saying “work smarter not harder” really applies here. Whether you’re opening a jar, loosening a lug nut, or moving a piece of furniture, think about how it’s going to impact your joints. Get the mechanical advantage and use tools such as a jar opener, breaker bar, or a dolly to reduce the impact on your joints.
When you’re roller skating, mountain biking, or doing other activities that can challenge your joints, wear safety gear. Be a good example to your kids, grandkids, and younger friends!
Talk to a rheumatologist
Going to the doctor may be the single most important thing that you can do for joint health. Everyone’s health needs are different, and this includes joint health. Rheumatologists can help you identify the best approach to ensure your joints stay healthy.
A rheumatologist studies, diagnoses, and treats conditions of the joints, muscles, and ligaments -known as rheumatic diseases – such as arthritis. If you have any concerns about joint pain, or questions joint health whatsoever, don’t hesitate to speak to a medical professional. Contact Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic for rheumatology in Northwest Arkansas.